Maine Preservation has selected Hartford Fire Station in Augusta for a 2019 Honor Award. These annual awards celebrate excellence in historic preservation leadership, rehabilitation, and craft in the state of Maine.
Hartford Fire Station was built when horse-drawn pumps were still in use, and its 1920 apparatus bay floors and doors were not designed to handle modern fire engines. Creative thinking helped save this iconic community resource while providing critical infrastructure in a technically separate but seamlessly connected building.
The Hartford Fire Station Renovation & Expansion project includes an 11,325 SF addition and along with a major renovation of the original 8,800 SF Classical Revival structure. The new two-story expansion provides a six-vehicle, drive-through apparatus bay with a comprehensive exhaust system and decontamination area. Above, the living quarters offers a roomy kitchen/day room, fitness room, bunk rooms, personal laundry, and dedicated storage — all isolated from, yet quickly accessible to, the new apparatus bay.
The renovation of the 1920 portion of the building was threatened by the cost of foundation reinforcements required to meet essential facility standards for an existing fire station. The team reimagined the design and put all Category IV critical uses into the new addition, technically a separate building, allowing Tier II standards on the 1920 wing of the facility.
The renovated original structure still provides many important functions, including a four-door vehicle storage bay for backup equipment and the station’s prized antique fire truck. Its second floor is comprised of administrative offices, training room with kitchenette, unisex restrooms, conference room, and display space for historic memorabilia. Scope of work included a complete rebuild of the vehicle bay floor, many new windows, all new MEP systems, and an emergency staircase on the exterior west wall. The entire site and parking lot were also reconfigured, adding parking and a secure back entrance.
Hartford Fire Station was built when Augusta firefighters were still using horse-drawn fire pumps. The 7,000 SF station’s apparatus bay floors and doors were not designed to handle modern fire engines, which can be triple the size of 1920-era firetrucks. The key driver of this project was the need for appropriate space for today’s firetrucks. The original building provided space for horse stalls, hay, and manure, but the living quarters were not sealed off from the apparatus bay’s vehicle fumes. Over time, the bay doors could barely fit modern trucks and the floor was cracking under their weight.
A 2008 independent response-time analysis determined Hartford Fire Station should remain where it is, close to downtown and two city bridges. In 2017, the City hired a team to renovate and expand this 1920s gem to bring it to current standards. The City selected Brewer-based Nickerson & O’Day Constructors to lead the design-build team. WBRC provided architecture and engineering, in collaboration with national fire station expert Bob Mitchell of Mitchell Associates Architects. Becker (now Thornton-Tomasetti) provided structural engineering. Hartford Fire Station Chief Roger Audette brought invaluable leadership to the project.
From the outside, the original Hartford Fire Station remains much the same with its tapestry brick, stone trim, and arched clock. The east-side expansion harmonizes visually with the older structure and the station continues to respond to calls 24/7/365. For emergency service professionals, however, the changes are transformational. The new drive-through apparatus bay is supported by proper decontamination areas and isolated living quarters – essential spaces that could only happen via new construction. By combining old and new, Hartford Fire Station has reinvigorated a cherished landmark while providing a safer workplace for the men and women who put their lives on the line each day for their neighbors.